Knowing how to pose your couple when you are just starting out in wedding photography can be intimidating and overwhelming, to say the least. Especially when you sometimes have mere minutes to achieve beautiful, relaxed, connected portraits when a wedding day timeline has gotten off track.
Through the years, my posing approach has just about run the gamut. I’ve just about tried it all until I landed on a style that suits my personality and the achieves the end feeling of the photographs I aim to create for my couples. Today I’m going to share my top 10 favorite and super easy poses that I regularly use on a wedding day.
Tip: create a “note” in your phone that lists your go-to poses for couples. The morning of a wedding, review the note to get your head in the right space and set it as the lock screen in your phone for quick reference if need be.
#1 – THE FACE TO FACE
I typically start off my portrait time with a couple on a wedding day with this one because it’s super easy and it’s setting the tone for how I want the images to feel: relaxed and natural.
What I say to set it up: “Face each other with your feet and shoulders and wrap your arms around each other. Cuddle in and bring your heads in close and chat with each other for a minute while I get set up.”
If there is space in between their bodies, I’ll encourage them to get in even closer by “schooching” their feet in closer to one another. I’ll give it a minute to see what they naturally fall into as far as their comfort goes; if they are looking stiff/awkward, I’ll ask them to give each other a little squeeze. Then, “squeeze tighter”…and again, “squeeze tighter”…and again, “squeeze TIGHTER!”. This usually ends with a natural expression of smiles or laughter.
Note: this pose isn’t the best for couple’s that have a great height difference, as you don’t want the groom to look hunched over.
#2 – The Walk Toward Camera
This pose is usually my second go-to, but also the one that I will do again at some point during portrait time. It’s probably my favorite pose, as it’s flattering to everyone, works great for all shapes and sizes, is super easy to set-up and I think best achieves the relaxed, connected, joyful feel that I’m going for.
What I say to set it up: “Face me with your feet and shoulders, hold hands, look at each other and walk toward me.”
I will typically have them do this several times, as I’ll vary my focal length and/or composition from vertical to horizontal.
#3 – The Walk From Camera
This pose can be achieved by having the couple turn around to head back to their starting point to do pose #2 again. I also sometimes sneak this photo in when we are walking from one location to another. I’ll ask the groom to put his hand on the small of her back if she is holding her bouquet in one hand and hiking up her dress with the other…this way, their bodies are still connected, even in just a subtle way. Lastly, this is a great pose to use when I’m working with an epic landscape backdrop.
#4 – The Kiss
Typically this ends up as a quick variant of pose #1 (The Face to Face). I only really request them to kiss just this once for a quick shot and I typically instruct one of them to grab the other around the waist or face and pull him/her in for a kiss. You can also vary it by asking the groom to kiss the bride on the forehead or cheek.
#5 – The Bear Hug
This pose works best when the groom is at least slightly taller than the bride and can be composed either as a tight, wide or super wide shot.
What I say to the groom to set it up: “Stand behind her, wrap your arms around her arms like a bear hug. Bring your head into her the temple of her head and snuggle in close.”
I’ll either ask the bride to bring both of her hands up to her chest before he hugs her if she doesn’t have a bouquet in hand, or I’ll ask her to reach up and hold onto his arms after he is hugging her.
The main thing to have him avoid doing is to put his hands around her stomach, as it can turn “maternity session” really quick.
#6 – The Hold From Behind
This pose works great when the couple doesn’t have a big height difference. It works best for couples that are pretty much the same height.
What I say to set it up: “Groom, turn your back to Bride and put your hands in your pockets. Bride, wrap your arms around his waist and bring your head in close to his back. Give him a little squeeze.”
Note: beware of makeup getting on the groom’s suit. It can happen, but in my experience, hasn’t been that big of deal to brush it off after the fact.
#7 – The Side By Side
Depending on what you are going for, the side by side pose can either have a traditional or quirky/artsy feel to it and works well for couples of all sizes and heights.
What I say to set it up: “Both of you stand side by side and face me directly with your feet and shoulders.”
From there, I can do a couple of variations: 1) groom, hands in pockets + bride, hold bouquet with both hands or in one hand, 2) reach out and hold hands, 3) both look at the camera and/or look at each other.
This pose can also be preceded by “The Twirl”, which we’ll cover next!
#8 – The Twirl
Often times after doing the “side by side”, I’ll go right into “the twirl”, as they are already the needed positions.
What I say to set it up: “Groom, reach out to grab her hand and give her a little twirl.”
I will typically have them repeat this at least twice.
Notes: This pose works best when there no bouquet for the bride to hold, so she can focus on holding onto her dress when she spins. You might want to have your assistant pop over to grab it from her before you begin. You also might have limitations on this one depending on the terrain they are standing on, the type of shoes she is wearing and the size of the bride’s dress. If the twirl is feeling to cumbersome for the bride to spin a full 360 degrees, you can prompt her to just do a half twirl.
#9 – The Lift
This is another one that can be tricky given the comfort of the bride, as well as the size of her dress. I will typically ask them if they want to give it a shot; if they seem at all hesitant, I don’t sweat it…I just move on.
#10 – The Smile At Camera
Arguably the most traditional of the 10 poses here is the “Smile At Camera”. I don’t typically do many of these at all, but will also make it a point at every wedding to make sure I have at least one solid photograph of the bride and groom together, smiling at the camera. Even though this poses doesn’t particularly inspire me as a photographer and can go against my aim to create portraits that feel relaxed and natural, I still think it important to capture a traditional and timeless portrait such as this.
Most often I will set up the “Smile At Camera” poses toward the end of our time together, so the formality of it doesn’t set the tone for the majority of the portraits.
Note: you’ll want to make sure you instruct the groom on what to do with his hand – either put it in his pocket or wrap it around the bride.
There you have it. 10 easy, beautiful and in my opinion, timeless, wedding day couple poses.
For more education for photographers from Cheyenne, check out:
“How to Create a Comfortable and Meaningful Experience at Engagement Sessions”
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